Getting it Wrong About Free Speech and Fear

First off, sorry for the no-posts – I was out of town for a week, so I’m a little behind the commentary curve here. On the other hand, it gave me time to better digest things – and see what everyone else is saying. And what everyone else is saying appears wrong to at least some degree.

Let us clear one thing up: we are afraid. All of us. We are all afraid of the radical Islamists. It would be the height of stupidity not to be afraid of them. They kill people at the drop of a hat, for crying out loud. Of course you’re afraid of people like that. I’m sure my dad was afraid of the Germans and the Japanese in 1944. Here’s the thing, though – in response to this terrible, heart-rending fear of what the Germans and the Japanese might do, he joined the United States Marine Corps. At the age of 17, I should add – you know, in our terms that means he was 9 years shy of being an adult. Still joined up. There were bad people out there who wanted to do horrible things to all my father held dear – his mother and his father and his brothers and his sisters and his country. Off he went. Fortunately to come back alive. A bit north of 330,000 men just like him – who were also afraid – didn’t come back.

That was a different America, of course. In 2015, we are seeing two different responses to the fear, both of them wrong.

On the one hand, we have our Ruling Class – especially in the MSM and including many on the right – who have decided that the best response to their fear is to try and hide. This is where you get the people who say, I love free speech, but… If you put a “but” after something, it probably means you’re full of it. If you love something – seriously love something – then the actual thing you are saying is I will kill and die in defense of it. Someone who says, I love my wife, but…is probably someone headed for divorce court. Such a person doesn’t really love his wife. He’s trying to get the credit which accrues to someone who shows willing to die for a person or cause without, you know, actually risking anything in defense of the allegedly beloved person or cause. Our Ruling Class – logically afraid of people who kill pretty much at random for no actually justifiable reason – wants the credit for being defenders of freedom, but doesn’t want to defend freedom, because defending freedom might get you killed. So we get these cowardly statements which essentially condemn the victims of the Islamist radicals – from the same sorts of people who are always saying Christians and Jews have to take it on the chin in the interests of free speech.

The other – equally wrong – response is to go about provoking these lunatics. Oh, I know – a lot of people who will, say, draw a cartoon insulting Mohammed will be all, “well, I got my guns; let them Islamists come at me!”. Well, what if they come after you at the mall and I’m standing next to you? What if I’m your neighbor and the Islamists get the wrong house? There’s plenty I’m willing to put my life on the line for but most assuredly not so that someone can hurl insults. Freedom is the ability to do the right thing – not the ability to do whatever we darn well please. It isn’t right to insult people. Ever. Not even if they are really mean and nasty people. Look at it like this – suppose I spent an hour just yelling at you all manner of disgusting insults and when you’ve finally had enough, you come at me…and then (by some miracle; and trust me, it would be) I beat you in the fight. Am I a hero? Did I do a grand thing? Nope. I just caused a ruckus – and I didn’t even get my proper reward for being a jerk. Yes, you are perfectly free to say or draw whatever pleases you as far as I’m concerned. I’ll agree to no law or regulation or anything which would get any government agency to stop you from saying what you please. But if you’re being an insulting jerk, then you’re being an insulting jerk – take the consequences…and for pity’s sake, take them when I’m out of range.

We do need to confront and defeat the Islamist radicals. It is a crucial campaign for the safety of our civilization – and, indeed, for the safety of Muslim civilization. What we should be saying is how we’ll get that job done. That is the proper subject for free people to discuss…not whether someone should draw a cartoon of Mohammed and whether or not free speech covers such a thing. Drawing Mohammed or condemning a drawing of Mohammed gets us nowhere. It neither builds public understanding of the threat we face, nor does it produce plans and means for defeating the threat. It gets us into an endless, pointless argument while the enemy builds his forces and perfects his plans for our undoing. In fact, all we’re doing right now is doubly playing into the Islamists hands – by drawing insulting pictures of Mohammed we feed his propaganda among the Muslim people and by craven condemnations of the drawings we explicitly state to the enemy that we’re a bunch of cowards, easy to beat.

We’ve got to get serious about this. The stakes are high – indeed, they are absolute. We win or they win. There’s no in between. We won’t win by being cowards on one hand and hurling mindless insults on the other. This is not about free speech. This is about a justified fear of a ferocious and determined enemy. What we do with that fear decides what happens. I guess dad could have drawn an insulting picture of Hitler, or explained away the Bataan Death March…might have occupied some time. But it wouldn’t have stopped the Japanese or the Germans.

A Riot of Idiocy

I don’t know much about the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Her Wikipedia entry indicates a pretty conventional political career for a Democrat – you know: went to college, got out of college and got into government and has never left it. Some say her “space to destroy” remark is being taken out of context and I’ll go ahead and buy that – maybe she was trying to put out an idea and it got mangled in transition from mind to mouth…it does happen to us all. But, on the other hand, she’s the Mayor, not some small-time blogger, like me. Within the city limits of Baltimore, she’s the Commander in Chief in an emergency…it is to her that the law must refer when riots erupt. Within the city, she – and no one else – is ultimately responsible for the lives and property of the citizens of Baltimore. Do understand this – when the chips are down, it is to the top person everyone looks. Not the city council, not the chief of police – to the Mayor. Regardless of whether her destroy remark was out of context, the city clearly fell apart on her watch.

This reminds me a bit of Hurricane Katrina – while the MSM and the Democrats (but, I repeat myself) managed to fix in the public mind that President Bush (who bore zero legal responsibility) was at fault for the failed response, the reality was that the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana failed. The two leaders were both also rather conventional Democrat politicians who had spent most of their lives in politics – and were the kindly, public faces of the party to the electorate. But, they failed miserably. I think this is because our Democrats are rather clever in most instances – they know they need a kind face in front and so they find one. One who will do as they are told, not rock the boat and allow the nauseating sea of Democrat corruption to continue unhindered by reality. I don’t know for certain if Ms. Rawlings-Blake is as much of a zero as the Mayor and Governor were in Louisiana, but my guess is that she was elevated to the Mayor’s office by the Democrat powers-that-be not because of a sterling record of accomplishment but, rather, because of her loyalty and pliability (she signed off on a plan to fix Baltimore’s disastrous fiscal problems – and it promises to reduce a shortfall over ten years from $750 million to $400 million…which means it fixes precisely nothing and, I’ll bet, even the $300 million saved is probably due to fiscal hocus-pocus; a real leader doesn’t sign off on a solution which doesn’t solve; the difference is in what Walker did in Wisconsin – he really fixed Wisconsin’s fiscal woes).

The main thing to keep in mind outside of the particular merits of the current leaders of Baltimore is that the last time a Republican ran the city was from 1963 to 1967, and Republicans have held the Mayor’s office only 16 out of the last 100 years. Baltimore is the Democrat’s city. They own it. If there is anything wrong with Baltimore, it is 100% the fault of the Democrats. And very liberal Democrats, at that (as an aside, Nancy Pelosi’s dad and brother both served as Mayor – her brother botching the 1968 riots so badly that he was booted out of office after one term; another oddity is that at that time, as well, a Democrat mayor botched the response and a Republican Governor, Spiro T. Agnew, called out the National Guard – and, eventually, federal troops courtesy of the President – to restore order). Bottom line is that if the Baltimore Police Department is a racist oppressor, then it is made up of and run by liberal racist oppressors. I fully expect at the next election the people rioting in the streets will vote for the same people running the show today.

Astonishingly, President Obama actually used the word “thugs” to describe the rioters. Per many liberals, this actually makes President Obama a racist as the word “thug” is code for “N word”. President Obama, more true to form, did manage to place some of the blame on the GOP for the riots, claiming that GOP failure to pass his agenda has meant less money for programs to alleviate the problems which led to the riots. This in service of the ideal that only vast sums of federal cash funneled to bureaucrats can fix our problems. I actually figure the use of the word “thug” was because someone did some polling and found out that riots don’t play well for the 2016 narrative – after all, it has been a couple days and Obama is only speaking just today.

Lost in all this is the man who’s death in police custody sparked the riots (or, at any rate, provided an excuse for criminal elements to go on a rampage). Freddy Gray was no exemplar of good citizenship – but what caused his arrest is that he took off running when the police approached him. He was found with a switchblade and arrested. To be sure, running from the police is not a good idea – but I don’t find in the available information any underlying crime being committed…and arresting someone for having a knife seems a bit extreme (and you can probably thank the good liberals who run Baltimore for making sure that knife possession is illegal). Irritatingly, some on the right are pointing out Gray’s long rap sheet as some sort of justification for his death. Sorry, folks, but being a petty criminal doesn’t in any way, shape or form justify death. Unless the police can come up with credible evidence that Gray attacked them, then the police did wrong (to be sure, in the Ferguson case, the evidence ended up being open and shut – the dead man did attack the officer…and maybe over time some evidence of this will come out in the Gray case: so far, it hasn’t). Most of Gray’s arrests seem to be over drugs, so I guess we can count this as another victory in the War on Drugs? And may we please surrender in that war?

The MSM covered itself in it’s usual glory here – first ignoring the riots when they started because that might have made Obama’s appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner look bad. Next by trying to some how justify the riots based upon American racism without even once noting that the city is run by liberals (and has a black Mayor, black Chief of Police and is, indeed, 63% black). Interspersed among this has been the sensationalist showing of videos of burning buildings and lack of police presence – coverage assured to get everyone off the couch and off to the looting (except for one young man who has the best mother, ever).

In all of this, I don’t think I’ve seen any intelligent commentary or suggestions. The thing to be done is, of course, a national campaign to reform police practices and for the GOP to start getting into these deep blue cities and start campaigning. Offer the people there a choice, for crying out loud. Do you really think that most people in Baltimore want to live like that? Of course they don’t – but all they get is, at best, a choice between the liberal Democrat who is favored by the party bosses and the odd liberal Democrat who thinks he or she should have been favored by the party bosses. Nothing will change in places like Baltimore until there is something to change to.

It is all really rather sad and enraging – I pray for the people of Baltimore, and of our poor nation, so badly served by politicians and media.

UPDATE: If this is true, then it is a complete game-changer in the Freddy Gray story.

It’s the Arbitrariness, Stupid

Arbitrary government operating by force, by terror, must destroy the best, the boldest dissenters in sheer self-defence; soon it finds itself destroying all who, on the one hand, do not actively assist it or, on the other, do not passively submit. – Edward Crankshaw

In other words, if you won’t have a government of laws and customs, then you simply must destroy the very best people you have…those who think in the boldest terms and seek to do the best. Arbitrary government cannot exist except when everyone is beaten down…and mindless, bureaucratic hacks are free to just grind away.

A strict – even Draconian – legal code is no problem, at all. If you know what the law is and if the law applies equally to all, then we all know where we stand. We can take care. We can take evasive action. We’re fine, even if rather inconvenienced. But when what the law is resides in the merest whim of those who enforce the laws, then no one really knows the law – no one knows what may be done, or what may bring punishment. People become fearful, dissent and innovation dry up…and the world is left to those who enjoy wielding arbitrary power (and make no mistake about it, some people do enjoy it…such people exist in all societies…and an arbitrary society just brings such people out of the woodwork in droves).

What we saw in Wisconsin is an example of arbitrary law – even if one wants to believe that Walker supporters were breaking the law, it was still an arbitrary enforcement…and done with such crude (disgusting, actually) force that everyone involved in right of center politics in Wisconsin became fearful. What our liberals – who are still mostly silent on the issue – don’t realize is that while they might think it good for such things to be done to conservatives, they will eventually be done to liberals, as well. People who like to arbitrarily enforce laws in a cruel manner never get tired of it – and when the enemies are all destroyed, they simply go after the friends, as well. You see, once you’ve got people empowered to do whatever they wish, they’ll do it – and, indeed, they have to, in a sense. If all the enemies are disposed of and it is now time to close up shop, that forces a bunch of people off the government gravy-train. They’ll invent new enemies as needed in order to justify their continues bureaucratic existence.

The lesson for all of us here – left and right – is strict rules strictly enforced. There is no half-way house. It is liberty or tyranny – no shading in between. We, as a people, must demand that our government officials scrupulously follow the rules…and if we find a gap in the rules, then we must fix it, and the government must follow the new rules, as well.

Some Things I Found Interesting Open Thread

Missing the point is a very fine art; and has been carried to something like perfection by politicians and Pressmen to-day. For the point is generally a very sharp point; and is, moreover, sharp at both ends. That is to say that both parties would probably impale themselves in an uncomfortable manner if they did not manage to avoid it altogether. G. K. Chesterton, Utopia of Usurers and other Essays, 1917

In case you were thinking the dishonesty of our press and politicians was something new.

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded. – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Yeah – and methinks it has only gotten worse.

Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it – we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today. The bad work begun at the Reformation is bearing its final fruit in the dissolution of our ancestral doctrines – the very structure of our society is dissolving.

In the place of the old Christian enthusiasms of Europe there came, for a time, the enthusiasm for nationality, the religion of patriotism. But self-worship is not enough, and the forces which are making for the destruction of our culture, notably the Communist propaganda from Moscow, have a likelier future before them than our old-fashioned patriotism.

In Islam there has been no such dissolution of ancestral doctrine – or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa. – Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies, 1938

Our civilization lost it’s religion (Christianity); it substituted patriotism for a while, until that went cold. Then various forms of communism became fashionable and while they still exist, the don’t really call forth any devotion. Islam, however, continues. If you wonder why some children of the West go to join Islam and fight for it, look no further than the fact that we believe in nothing…and Belloc figured this out in 1938, when Islam – as such – was completely decayed and almost entirely under the European thumb. The Muslims believe – you can say they believe wrongly, but they believe…and only those who actually believe in something stronger than Islam will survive.

Campaign 2016 Open Thread

I am curious as to everyones thoughts on the early stages of the 2016 field which filled out a little more over the last couple of days with the announcements of Hillary and Marco Rubio. The contrast between the roll outs of Hillary’s and Marco’s campaign could not have been more stark. Hillary is stale with the charisma and the charm of a ferret while Marco came off as fresh and invigorated with a vision for the 21st century. I have always liked Marco but need to see him command the stage a little better with a firm grasp of the issues. I think he will grow into that role. I also like Walker and Cruz and it will be fun to watch them develop their campaigns over the next year.

I think the Democrats are in real trouble. The only viable candidate they have is Hillary who does not exactly warm the hearts of many Americans. Aside from Hillary, there is a possibility that O’Malley and Webb might run but I don’t see that happening – I think both of them are probably angling for the VP slot. And then of course you have two full blown communists in Sanders and Warren which shows you just how far left, and how small the Democratic Party has become.

The youth, energy, and the diversity are found in the GOP field. The future belongs to common sense, personally responsible conservatives – and that is a good thing for this country.

 

 

Who Killed Walter Scott?

Immediately, of course, the police officer – who has now been charged with murder. None of us know all the facts, of course, so there is still room for reasonable doubt to emerge but for the present, things seem weighted heavily against the officer. I don’t know what was going through his mind, but it appears that he did very wrong. Now, we’ll have a trial which will sort out the facts – unless, that is, the facts are so overwhelming against the officer that he pleads out. Time will tell. But in the larger sense, what do we know – so far – about this case?

First off putting out the caveat – this is stuff which is emerging as the case unfolds, and some of it may not be true. Having said that:

Scott appears to have been pulled over because of a broken tail light on his car. He may have attempted to flee the scene due to fears of being sent to jail over unpaid child support. Scott was the father of four children (some of whom, presumptively, he owed child support for). He was engaged to be married. Former Coastguardsman (some say an officer, but the picture I saw appears to be in an enlisted man’s uniform). Scott has ten arrests in his record: this is being downplayed, but I’m 50 and I’ve only got one arrest in my record (and not really in my record – me and some buddies were rounded up for drunk and disorderly in Norfolk, VA back in my Navy days and we were just dropped off at the base): having ten arrests seems a bit much.

So, a man is pulled over for a busted tail light and winds up dead – because he ran, and he ran because he feared going to jail over unpaid child support. Anyone see a problem here?

Why are our over-whelmed police forces pulling people over for busted tail lights? Was there nothing else the officer could have been concerning himself with during that time? Why is a man facing jail time for unpaid child support? I agree – a man who doesn’t support his children is a bum…but so is a man who cheats on his wife. We going to send him to jail? Along with all the adulterers in the world? In addition to, say, everyone who fails to hold down a steady job? Boozes it up too much? Not standing up and being a man is a wrong thing – but it isn’t a crime worthy of being sent to jail over.

In a rational society, no person would fear going to jail for unpaid debts – and so no one having unpaid debts would worry so much about a traffic stop that he’d run away from it. In a rational society, no one would care if someone has a busted tail light (or expired plates, or no insurance) and so the only time an officer of the law would take notice is if it were in connection to some other incident (ie, now that you’ve rear-ended another car, we do care a bit more that you’re driving with a busted tail light…here’s an extra ticket for you). In a rational society, there would have been no traffic stop – and if by some chance there was a traffic stop, there would be no cause impelling the detainee to run…wouldn’t really matter how bad the cop was, no one would be dead.

Here’s the real kicker – the reason police are avid to write up tickets for trivialities like busted tail lights is because our cities are strapped for cash. Our cities are strapped for cash, most of the time, because they are run by liberals who have driven the cities into something close to bankruptcy. The reason we send men to jail because of unpaid child support is because we went into a fit against “dead beat dads” (with no mention of the moms who shacked up with dead beats) and wanted to really punish those lousy guys…this was done because our liberals wanted us to. In short, because of a bunch of liberals, we’ve set up a system where trivial laws grind up people – and set up situations where a bad cop can come into contact with a poor fool and the poor fool winds up dead.

Who killed Walter Scott? An insane system killed him. We tell people – go ahead; have sex outside marriage. Produce children willy-nilly. We won’t censure you or, indeed, even mention that you might not be living a decent life. But when you do this, if you don’t pay the money we prescribe via the courts, watch out! We’re coming for you. We don’t expect you to be responsible and marry the girl you’re having kids with – but failure to pay her some cash after the passion has cooled? We’re sending you to jail for that one, buddy. So, no social opprobrium for being a cad – but there is a warrant out for your arrest. After all, we all know how guys who have four kids and are behind on their child support are otherwise upstanding citizens who hold down steady jobs… So, keep looking over your shoulder. There’s a cop out there, somewhere, and he’s just waiting for his chance to pull you over so he can write some revenue-generating tickets to ensure that the city employee pension fund is in good shape. And when you get pulled over, that warrant will pop up. Now, what do you do? Just go to jail, or run?

Pick one boys and girls – either an immoral society with no rules at all, or a moral society. Right now we’ve got a lunatic mish-mash of the two and it is killing people…and not just by having them shot by a cop. Think of all the young people who wind up dead because they grow up in fatherless households where no one teaches them decent behavior? And then these kids get a bit older and out in the streets and they don’t know how to act – and often act badly.

We don’t have to eradicate racism – worthy as that goal is. We don’t need to tolerate diversity – though tolerance of diversity is often a good thing. We don’t need more studies and programs – though at least such things keep psuedo-intellectual pinheads occupied. What we need is to stop being insane. We need to be rational – reasonable – people. Rational people don’t send people to jail for unpaid debts – and they don’t tolerate men who don’t step up to the plate and do their duty. Just as soon as we start being sane, we’ll stop this sort of thing from happening.

The Democrats’ Hot, New Plan: More Social Security

Yeeehaw:

Social Security has a long-term funding gap that just keeps growing. Neither political party has a plan to pay for the promises we’ve already made to people contributing to the system. But Democrats are bringing a new idea to the table: make even more promises.

Almost all Senate Democrats have lined up behind a proposal by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand benefits for current retirees. Liberals are exulting that Warren has shifted the politics of Social Security to the left: Where once we were debating cutbacks to the program, now we’re debating benefit increases. Too bad that also means the debate is shifting further away from fiscal reality.

Social Security is becoming a worse deal for each generation. Those now joining the workforce are expected to pay more into the system than they get out of it. Warren’s plan is to shower more money on the current generation of retirees, but without increasing the deficit over the next 10 years. That means, in all likelihood, raising taxes on current workers while also increasing the program’s long-run fiscal deficit…

Now, in raw politics, this is a good idea – you see, elder voters are increasingly trending GOP and they tend to vote very consistently…thus playing a huge role in the anti-Democrat blow-outs of 2010 and 2014. In 2016, which is expected to be a close-run race, getting a few more elderly voters to pull the lever for the Democrats might make the difference between President Hillary and President Walker. So, off we go: raise social security benefits for current retirees and hope that out of gratitude they vote for you.

Of course, as noted in the quote, this can only be done by increasing taxes on current workers and it would also, naturally, put a heavier strain on social security in later years. The bottom line is that social security just doesn’t work – it is predicated upon a very large number of working people supporting a relatively small number of retired people. Trouble is, the work force keeps getting smaller and the miracles of modern science are keeping us alive ever longer. My father retired in 1992 at the age of 65 and died in 2009 at the age of 82 – seventeen years of picking up the SS check. Suppose I live 10 years longer than my dad did…even if I retire at 67, that will still work out to 25 years of SS payments for me. And a kid of 25 today might easily live until his late 90’s, or even longer. Meanwhile, we’re not having all that many kids. The program eventually goes belly up. But what is that to Democrats? What they need is a way to buy votes now – what will happen later is irrelevant; whatever happens, their program to deal with it will be to promise more free stuff.

Ok, so how do we fight against this? Can’t just say, “screw the old folks”. That would just play into Democrat hands. We have to come up with some sort of program which both benefits the oldsters while also helping out the younger folks who are paying for the goodies. My preferred option is to start implementing a privatization of social security without being too explicit that full privatization is the ultimate goal (politics is the art of the possible, folks). Something along the line of “10% of the money you pay into ss, today, will go into a private account owned by you and your heirs”. Whatever we do, we have to do it well – because this will be a potent weapon for the Democrats in 2016.